Pandemic accelerated the urban exodus in Toronto and Montreal

Pandemic accelerated the urban exodus in Toronto and Montreal

In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, urban exodus intensified population growth for smaller rural areas.

Thousands of people left the two largest cities of Toronto and Montreal, Canada, according to StatCan.

From mid-2020 to mid-2021, more than 64,000 people left Toronto for other parts of Ontario.

According to population estimates by Statistics Canada, an increase of 14 percent from the previous 12-month period–or 6,600 left the province of Ontario.

The so-called Golden Horseshoe around Toronto has also seen strong inflows. Oshawa grew by 8,000 people as residents moved from Toronto, Hamilton and St. Louis. St. Catharines increased by nearly 5,000.

Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city, lost nearly 40,000 residents in other areas of Quebec, up 60 percent by 2021, and 3,600 left the province of Quebec.


The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work have prompted thousands of Canadians to leave large and expensive cities searching for more space and cheaper real estate in small centers, cottage towns and coastal regions.

Migration created a nationwide housing boom and increased prices in small towns rather than urban centers. As a result, concerns began, such as increased pressure on municipal services and the anxiety that locals might be priced out.

Nationwide, the average home in Canada is now worth $ 780,400 – up 34 percent, or just over $ 200,000, from March 2020.

The exodus has improved the situation in Atlantic Canada. Halifax’s population increased by more than 6,000 people as of June 30, 2021, most from outside the province.

Rural Quebec boomed, adding more than 25,000 people from urban centers. Quebec has a predominantly French-speaking population.


By Tess de Jesus, FWH